I agree the public deserves timely, accurate information regarding public safety from our city. However, a delay in hearing the facts after a shooting should not be considered more frustrating than shootings occurring in the first place. Our calls for action should focus on prevention.
As stated in a 2020 report on gun violence and COVID-19 by Everytown Research and Policy, “record increases in gun sales, children homebound like never before, social isolation, and economic struggles due to COVID-19 put many people at increased risk for gun violence.” According to the CDC and the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, 2020 was one of the deadliest years in terms of gun violence on record for the U.S. Firearms are one of the leading causes of death for American children.
The trend of increased shootings is not just a Duluth problem. It’s occurring nationwide, especially in cities and communities of color. Centuries of systemic racial discrimination and inequities in health care, housing, education, and other factors have exacerbated gun-violence risks to the point that Black Americans are 10 times more likely to die of gun homicide than white people. In Minnesota, rates of gun deaths are highest in the Native American population.
I wholeheartedly agreed with Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken’s comment in a News Tribune editorial that, “as a community, we need to figure out how to fix it.”
The pandemic has demonstrated the danger of having weak gun laws that enable firearms to fall into wrong hands. It’s highlighted how vulnerable communities experience unequal harm.
Our work must include implementing proven policies that protect ourselves and others. We must strengthen our background-check system and promote secure gun storage. It is imperative that we fund community-based violence-intervention and suicide-prevention programs. We must adopt extreme-risk laws proven to save lives.
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